I won’t eat up a ton of time with self-congratulations, but this is my fiftieth blog post. I’m so glad that I decided to give blogging a shot and I couldn’t be more thankful to all the people who’ve been reading, commenting, liking, and following my stuff. I’m especially grateful for the opportunity this blog has given me to review bad movies and TV shows.
During my first year of vet school I spent most of my spare time watching every episode I could of Nostalgia Critic, Obscurus Lupa Presents, Bad Movie Beatdown, & The Cinema Snob. I found these shows utterly hilarious and really wanted to make my own bad movie reviews. Unfortunately, I have no video editing knowledge. This blog has given me an opportunity to take a stab at another one of my dreams, and I want to sincerely thank everyone who’s been following me on my journey.
Well, enough of the mushy stuff. Let’s get to the subject of my fiftieth blog post, Poochinski.
If my last blog post had you thinking that England was the clear king of bad television in 1990 with Heil Honey I’m Home, let me shatter that illusion right now. Heil Honey I’m Home was merely the comparatively ineffectual rebuttal to America’s stab at creating the worst TV show of all time. That’s right, I found a show worse than a sitcom about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun living next door to a Jewish couple.
I’m just as shocked as you are, Adolf.
The trainwreck that I’m speaking of is, of course, Poochinski. A failed pilot that aired on NBC in July of 1990, Poochinski is about the titular detective who is killed in the line of duty. Played by Peter Boyle of Everybody Loves Raymond fame, Poochinsky’s soul is transferred into a bulldog for absolutely no reason. Poochinski teams up with his old partner to avenge his death and catch his killer. I correctly assumed that this show would be utterly stupid, but I didn’t expect it to be completely boring. But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s dive into the mess of a pilot that is Poochinski.
MY REVIEW / RECAP OF POOCHINSKI
History’s greatest cop show begins with an aerial shot of Chicago. The new police dispatcher Casey requests for police to visit a robbery victim, and maybe I could understand and write more about this scene if the background music wasn’t so freaking loud. Detective Stanley Poochinski invades this voice over and somehow manages to disgust us by his second line.
“Casey, anyone ever tell you you got a real sexy voice?”
Nothing like a little playful sexual harassment to start off your show. The credits start rolling and…oh, geez.
For a story this good, you need three writers.
After the intro, we meet up with Poochinski and his partner Robert McKay. They’re getting a statement from the robbery victim Casey mentioned earlier. In case you thought I was a little hasty when I disparaged Poochinski for a single instance of sexual harassment, allow me to present you with his fourth line of the show.
“Let’s wrap this up, huh. I can’t listen to this dork anymore.”
He’s batting a solid .500 in the awful cop department. It’s really quite impressive. I also sincerely believe that Peter Boyle was falling asleep when he read that line. McKay isn’t amused at Poochinski’s attitude and tells Pooch he’s tired of him not doing his job. McKay then storms off and we don’t see him again until the next day. Maybe if you’re so upset about your partner not doing his job you shouldn’t just storm off the job yourself?
Abandoned, Poochinski gets a hot dog and finds three kids abusing a dog in a nearby alley. There is so much wrong with this whole scene, not the least of which is the quality of these kids’ acting.
These idiots are clearly just poking something, except the yellow shirt kid. He’s just having a stroke.
Next up on the screwedometer is the fact that these kids are committing a crime about twenty feet from a busy street. Also, the main asshole pulls a switchblade on Poochinski.
As nine year-olds are wont to do.
Poochinski pulls out his own gun and manages to be awesome for about ten seconds. (Don’t worry, it never happens again.)
“When you get to be my age you forget things. Like whether or not this gun is loaded. Well, there’s only one way to find out.”
I know there’s been a lot of stuff about police abuse lately, but fuck those kids. Don’t beat up dogs. Anyway, the little bastards run away and Poochinski meets the dog they were hurting. He’s pretty adorable.
Who’s a good little genetic failure? You are yes you are!
Poochinski and the dog happily bond for a few minutes, but this show goes from tots adorbs to mad depressing in an instant.
““Ugly and all alone in the world, huh? I know how that feels.”
What is this, Paul Blart Mall Cop?
It’s on my review list, don’t worry.
I don’t know what’s worse, the heavy-handedness and abruptness of that dialogue or the scene transition that follows.
Soon after is easily the funniest moment of the pilot. When Poochinski insinuates that he’s been sleeping with a rude cop’s wife, the guy has a total and lengthy nonreaction.
This could have been an intentional directorial decision, but based on the rest of this pilot I think that cop just forgot his line and walked away in disappointment.
McKay finally returns to the job and enters the station. He heads inside his captain’s office to complain about Poochinski when…of course.
An African-American police chief mediating a dispute between a seasoned vet and a rookie cop? Never seen that before!
McKay’s final complaint about Poochinsk is that he breaks wind constantly. (Keep it classy, NBC.) The chief tells McKay that Poochinski is the best cop in the department, having previously arrested both the North Hill Strangler and the Post Office Bomber. We’ll get back to that later.
Things get boring again for a long time as Poochinski and McKay take part in a stakeout. The only interesting thing in this part of the pilot is that McKay screams so hard his voice cracks.
While they argue, a woman gets held up at an ATM. This is where things stop making sense.
When they notice the robbery, Poochinsky angrily yells at McKay, “Now look what you did!” Because…I’ve got nothing. How is this McKay’s fault? McKay, apparently desperate to right his non-wrong, dashes after the fleeing robber. Poochinski continues to make no sense by screaming, “Don’t be a hero!”
I’m pretty sure he’ s just doing his job.
The robber hops in his car and tries to drive off, and we realize why Poochinski was trying to stop McKay from chasing the guy. He’s not worried about McKay’s safety, he probably just knows that McKay is a freaking psycho.
According to Tennessee v. Garner, an officer cannot fire on a fleeing suspect unless, “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” At no point in this scene were we shown that this robber had a gun. I suppose a case could be made that the robber was trying to harm McKay by driving at him, but I’m not sure if that would hold up. This might be less of a big deal if Poochinski hadn’t flashed a gun at a bunch of kids earlier.
In case you have any doubt that these officers are just amazingly incompetent, Poochinski sets up a makeshift roadblock to stop the robber down the street. Of course, he gets distracted when his dog tries to commit suicide in the road. Poochinsky abandons his job to save the dog in the most hilarious way possible.
Couldn’t he just have thrown it?
You better get used to watching actors struggle to carry this dog around because it happens a lot over the next fifteen minutes. Obviously Poochinski gets rammed by the robber and thrown into another car. He dies unbelievably unconvincingly.
So you’re just not going to try to make him look injured? Okay.
What follows is one of the strangest things to ever air on television. Poochinski’s soul transfers into the dog’s body as mystical music plays.
Just, why? And how?
Next we get an in depth explanation of why this soul swap occurred.
No I’m just messing, there’s no reason given. This just happens sometimes, I guess.
Anyway, McKay attends Poochinski’s funeral and discovers that Poochinski is now a dog. In case you were wondering, the dog actually talks in this thing.
Fun fact from a vet student; it’s not just intelligence that prevents dogs from making human-like speech. Their tongues and mouths simply can’t manage the precise movements necessary. I don’t know why I’m bothering to dispute this logically.
McKay asks the very reasonable question of how Poochinski became a dog, and the show gives the worst answer to anything I have ever heard.
“I saw this big tunnel and this big shaft of light and I heard voices at the end of it; relatives’ voices. And they were calling ‘here boy, here boy, come on, come on.’ The next thing I knew I had a tail!”
What the fuck does that even mean? Was Poochinski already in dog form when he was approaching heaven? How did he get turned around and get back to Earth? Or were his relatives just being really rude and calling him boy? And what happened to the soul of the dog that Poochinski saved? Was it this soul that was going to heaven? If so how did Poochinski know what the dog’s soul experienced?
Poochinski wants McKay’s help in catching his killer, but McKay’s been put on a desk job. (Maybe for shooting at that possibly unarmed robber?) Another really weird exchange follows.
Poochinski: “So McKay, who’s heading the investigation?”
McKay: “Sergeant Shriver.”
Poochinski: “Shriver, huh? Good man!”
McKay: “Oh, Shriver! Shriver couldn’t find a stick in a popsicle.”
Poochinski: “That’s right!”
McKay: “Yeah, alright. Poochinski, I’ll talk to the captain.”
Did the writers just hire this section off to a bunch of dyslexic elementary schoolers? What does all that mean? I think they’re insinuating that Poochinski doesn’t like Shriver and is using reverse psychology to get McKay to agree to this, but no reverse psychology seemed to be necessary. We saw in an earlier scene that Shriver was a bit of a jerk and McKay didn’t say anything nice about him here. This whole exchange is unnecessary and weird.
Poochinski and McKay head back to the station. McKay asks the captain to be put back on the case, and the captain is so friendly that I thought he was trying to lull McKay into a false sense of security for some reason.
Nope, just a complete character reversal.
McKay insists that he be put back on the case, but instead of resolving this argument the scene ends with Poochinski trying to have sex with Casey.
Nothing like a little prime-time bestiality.
Again, instead of resolving the question of whether or not McKay gets put back on the case we just cut to him and Poochinski at his apartment building. In the elevator, they come across a widow named Frannie and her daughter Katy. It was mentioned earlier that McKay had a crush on Frannie, and man does she ever return his feelings. Poochinski wraps his leash around them to pull the two together and she looks like she’s about to jump his bones right there.
Your daughter’s like two feet away!
McKay gets upset and carries Poochinski out of the elevator. Well, he tries to anyway.
You have no idea how much I love that they chose the heaviest and most awkward dog possible for the part.
McKay and Poochinski return to the apartment and nothing happens for a bit. I begin to wonder how a show about a cop becoming a talking dog can be so boring. Some needless drama occurs when McKay calls Poochinski a bulldog, which is really more fact than insult.
Bonus points for more awkward dog carrying!
It’s at this point that I began to realize what one of the major problems of this show was. We keep getting told that Poochinski is this amazing cop, but we haven’t seen anything to prove that. This goes against a little writing rule called show don’t tell. The only thing we have seen Poochinski be is a completely inept officer. In a scant seven minutes as a human, we watched Poochinski sexually harass a coworker, call a robbery victim a dork, flash a gun at a bunch of children, act loud and boisterous while on a stakeout, blame a woman getting robbed on his partner, insist that his partner let a mugger just run away, and get killed and let a robber escape because he broke the rules to keep his pet inside a police cruiser.
But I guess he did catch the Hash Slinging Slasher or whatever. Not like we saw it ourselves or anything.
So back to the story, there’s some more really weird writing. While McKay throws Poochinski out of his apartment, they say this:
Poochinski: “You’d send a poor helpless animal out on the streets alone?”
McKay: “Of course not.”
But you just did that! I guess McKay could be playing off the fact that Poochinski was just saying he’s still a good cop and thus not helpless, but why does this dialogue have to be so convoluted? You have a flatulent police officer turning into a bulldog; you’re not going for the Emmy here.
Poochinsky heads over to Frannie’s place so that she’ll bring him back to McKay. More horrible writing happens.
“I know this is a little forward, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of you sitting here eating peanut butter and Alpo. So we’re fixing dinner.”
Yeah, I’d say that’s more than a little forward. And again, your daughter is right there. She’s even closer this time! I’m sure it’s healthy to let her get so attached to this new man before you even go on one date.
We spend three painful minutes on this subplot and I don’t know why. Poochinski finds some romantic music on the radio, he goes ballistic when McKay locks him in the bedroom, and at one point McKay pulls out a gun for a reason I don’t care to figure out.
Was he going to murder Poochinski again with a little girl in the next room?
I don’t understand why any of this is here. If the Frannie / McKay romance was going to last the first season or whole series, why is so much focus being spent on it in the pilot? Shouldn’t that be saved for later episodes and we just get a hint of it here? Aren’t there other stories we could tell with that time? Maybe we could actually see Poochinski in action and learn why he’s such a great cop. Or we could delve more into McKay’s character. This is a show about a cop becoming a dog; there’s got to be more story here! Instead we get this idiocy which does nothing to advance anything. It’s actually impressive how little we learn about Frankie and her daughter in spite of all her screentime.
Eventually both McKay and Poochinski break down over the insanity of their new lives. Poochinski of course talks about his girlfriend that was mentioned once before, instead of us seeing these two together in a flashback or before he was murdered. McKay promises to stand by Poochinski and the McKay / Frannie dinner is completely dropped.
Seriously, her staring at him with a gun in his hand is the last time we see her. How can you spend so much time on this dinner and just completely drop it after that?
A week later Poochinski and McKay are staking out the ATM that Poochinski’s killer robbed. Completely impossibly, the robber hits the same ATM again in broad fucking daylight. What follows is the shortest and lamest chase scene in television history.
Whoa, reel it back Poochinski. That trash can jump was a little too badass.
In yet another reminder that these cops are just awful, McKay gets his ass beat despite Poochinski knocking the robber to the ground. The day is only saved when Poochinski bites the guy’s crotch. Afterwards, Poochinski is allowed to become a member of the canine squad and is assigned to be McKay’s new partner. Of course, he still acts like a dick.
He couldn’t just ask for his own bowl?
The last forty seconds of the show are really weird but in stupid, boring way.
I don’t understand the last line. Did Poochinski fart again or was it the loafers? Actually, I don’t care.
Seriously, what a way to end your pilot. Worse acting than usual from Mckay, cliched and strange writing, and another confusing line to wrap things up.
So what’s the final result? As a sincere effort at a TV show, Poochinski fails miserably. The acting level varies wildly, the dog is incredibly awkward, the dialogue is often oddly obtuse, and there are just so many basic writing mistakes. They tell and don’t show, characters are inconsistent, and scenes just end with no resolution. Even worse, this show mostly fails from a “so bad it’s good” standpoint. There is some funny stuff, but 80% of the material is just too boring to sift through.
Poochinski gets a 2 / 10 – Terrible